Friend or Foe! Is Artificial Intelligence Coming to Destroy Our Communities?

Local Businesses Now Trying to Embrace AI Tools and Technology

Trevor Phipps

After Hollywood started producing films depicting robots taking over the world, such as Blade Runner (1982) and The Terminator (1984), more than 40 years ago, a sense of terror often ignited when the topic of “artificial intelligence (AI)” was brought up.

Fears increased even more in recent years, when AI programs started to surface that people could talk to and get to do small tasks. People across the world got worried that “AI” was coming to take their jobs.

Besides, why pay a human a large salary if AI software or a robot can complete the same task? Art-rock pop star Peter Gabriel, known for his humanitarian causes, even quipped about the fears associated with Al during a tour stop last fall in Denver and performed a new song dealing with this controversial subject.

In fact, in recent months, the climate of AI software has changed as now many businesses both small and large are starting to embrace AI software and use it to aid them in their day-to-day operations.   Employee shortages that occurred during and after the COVID-19 pandemic also may have forced some businesses to consider other options like utilizing AI or robots.

This trend has even hit the local business landscape for mountain communities.

And even though many despise change, organizations that support local businesses, like The Greater Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce, have started to reach out and educate business owners about AI software.

Earlier this month, the Chamber of Commerce hosted a Lunch and Learn event called “Leveraging AI for Small Business Success: The Ultimate Growth Strategy” featuring Audrey Kerchner, the Chief Marketing Strategist for Inkyma (a marketing agency based in the Colorado Springs area).


The overall theme of the event was to squash fears that business owners and others may have about AI software through education. In fact, to start her presentation, Kerchner told the room filled with local business owners that she could teach everyone something that could help their business’ operations regardless of what industry they are in.


Kerchner owns a marketing firm, and she has been working with local businesses for several years to help them grow their bottom line. Over the last year, she has got heavily involved in learning and utilizing AI software like Zapier and Chat GPT to help businesses with a variety of tasks.


The presentation started out with what AI software is, and how to use it in a business to “drive top line growth and decrease spending.” Kerchner defined AI as “the ability for a system to do tasks that are usually done by humans because they require human intelligence and discernment.”


She explained that AI is not a scraping tool where it takes things directly from the internet. The AI software is fed information, and then it learns on its own to complete certain tasks.


The first example Kerchner cited involved using AI software like Chat GPT to complete writing for websites or social media posts. She explained which software is best for writing blogs or online articles to help businesses get found on search engines like Google.


She said that programs like Chat GPT can help reduce time when it comes to writing different things for business. “With our AI prompts, we have been able to take the creation of a 2,000-word blog article and hone it down to an hour,” Kerchner said. “And we get really, really good content out of it. One of the services that we (Inkyma) do is blog writing for search engine optimization. So, I have a lot of clients and we do a lot of writing.”


But she said that even though it just takes one simple prompt to get an AI program like Chat GPT to write an article, the process works much better with a series of step-by-step prompts. “We don’t just simply put into Chat GPT (or other software) ‘write me an article about x,’” Kerchner explained. “You are going to get absolute garbage coming from that. We do it in what we call layers.”


She said that she asks the AI software for a title and article summary, and then asks them to write an outline. After making changes to the summary and outline, she then asks the software to write the article.


She also talked about the various AI programs that are out there, and what tasks they are the best at completing. For example, Chat GPT and Claude III are best for writing, while Zapier is better for work flows and completing other tasks.


She then dove into other ways AI software can help small businesses. AI programs like Zapier can complete work flows posting articles on a website to social media pages automatically.


Other businesses also use AI software for scheduling. There are AI programs available out there that can answer phones and then schedule appointments. Some businesses also find software that can generate pictures or videos with a prompt helpful.


Overall, most businesses have started to realize in the last year or so that AI software can become a friend instead of an enemy. And the good news is that AI technology is always improving, so if there is something that AI software can’t do so well now, just wait for the near future for the programs to learn more and improve themselves.